On Monday, Joel Embiid experienced the worst game of his career, going scoreless on 0-of-11 shooting in a close loss to the Toronto Raptors. The response was a normal one from the star center, who torched the Sacramento Kings for 33 points and 16 rebounds Wednesday.
Embiid hopes to enjoy another big night Friday when the Philadelphia 76ers visit the New York Knicks, against whom they have won the last nine meetings.
The 76ers are 5-1 in their last six games since consecutive losses at Orlando and Oklahoma City on Nov. 13-15. The one loss in the recent run was a 101-96 setback against the defending champions, when Embiid played 32 minutes without scoring while getting 13 rebounds.
On Wednesday, things returned to normal in a 97-91 win over the Sacramento Kings, when Embiid had a double-double by halftime, posted his eighth game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds and 15th game with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds since the start of last season.
"It wasn't about proving anything and it was about making the right plays," Embiid said. "In Toronto, I had zero points, but I felt like I did, in the circumstances at hand, what I was supposed to. I play for myself; I always play for my teammates, and I always play to win. Whatever it takes, that's what I'm going to do, and tonight it was a different story. I was a little freer and I took advantage of it."
Philadelphia is 7-3 when Embiid gets a double-double, and he had three straight double-doubles before the Toronto game. One of those was a 23-point, 12-rebound showing Nov. 20, when the Sixers rallied from 17 points down in Philadelphia to get a 109-104 victory.
Ben Simmons had 18 points and 13 assists in the last meeting with the Knicks and had 10 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday. He has eight double-doubles so far and the Sixers are 6-2 in those games.
New York enters with 14 losses in first 18 games for the second straight season under coach David Fizdale, who seemingly was placed on notice when team president Steve Mills conducted a postgame press conference following a 108-87 home loss to Cleveland on Nov. 10. The Knicks are 2-6 in their last eight games and enter with a four-game losing streak after absorbing a 126-98 loss at Toronto on Wednesday.
The Knicks began the streak with close losses to Philadelphia, San Antonio and Brooklyn but took their most lopsided loss of the season after taking an eight-point lead through the opening quarter. New York shot 37.5 percent and took a season-high 41 3-pointers with only 12 going in.
The Knicks enter averaging a league-worst 101.8 points and following their latest loss, Fizdale questioned if his players are trusting each other on the court and if selfishness is taking place.
"Message to the team is trust," Fizdale said. "Right now, we're still fighting that fight to trust each other defensively and offensively. First quarter, you saw the ball move without hesitation. We get to the second quarter guys were holding the ball too long. They have to trust the easy play and the pass.
"Same thing defensively. If you get beat, you have to trust a guy will be there to protect you and the next guy is going to protect the next guy. It's something we haven't done through a full game. We're constantly fighting for that trust for 48 minutes."
Fizdale's blunt assessment occurred after the Knicks trailed by 34 at one point, allowed a season-high 21 3-pointers and were torched by Pascal Siakam's 31 points.
--Field Level Media
Embiid aims for another big night as Sixers visit Knicks
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